From file: Migrants disembark in Brindisi, Italy | Photo: Max Frigone / ANSA
From file: Migrants disembark in Brindisi, Italy | Photo: Max Frigone / ANSA

The seventh edition of an Italian festival on migration issues was recently held in Modena, Ferrara and Carpi. Among the speeches made was one by Erio Castellucci, vice president of the Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI) for northern Italy, who called for brotherhood with those who are forced to flee.

"Migration is not a rightwing or leftwing theme, it is one of humanity," said Edoardo Patriarca, spokesman for the Festival della Migrazione (Festival of Migration), at the end of the seventh edition, which took place November 23-26 in Modena, Ferrara, and Carpi.

"We have been in a 'bubble' in these days -- or it is politics that are in a 'bubble', barricaded within itself and far from the real country? We have given a voice to new Italians, too often not yet citizens, with their stories and accounts. And we have reiterated strongly, with authoritative voices, that welcoming and inclusion be an advantage for everyone," he added.

Initiative to overcome stereotypes and propose an agenda again

The Festival della Migrazione was sponsored by Fondazione Migrantes as the head of about 50 organizations ranging from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia to the Centro di Ricerca su Discriminazioni e Vulnerabilità (Center for Research on Discriminations and Vulnerabilities).

The festival included 16 sessions able to be followed online, as well as an interactive exhibition entitled 'In Fuga dalla Siria' ('Fleeing Syria'), which was visited by over 2,000 students and groups. There were also events in schools across the country.

The festival's aim was to compare views and experiences at a deeper level and go beyond prejudices and stereotypes by listening especially to the young and Italians who lack citizenship, who are questioning both politics and society.

The protagonists of the festival came from a variety of different backgrounds and realities. "We engaged in politics through proposing once again our agenda, on which we have requested an exchange with the parliament and giving space to reality," Patriarca said.

"The young asked us for an ecology of words: inclusion instead of integration, workers and not 'workforce', irregular migrants and not 'clandestine' migrants, human mobility instead of migration, new generation of Italians instead of 'second-generation' migrants: not a 'residual burden' but people who should be taken care of and assisted. The agenda that we drew up long ago is available to everyone, to compare views and to seek solutions and not slogans," he added.

Lives at risk should be saved and not pushed back, says CEI

Among the speeches seen as particularly incisive was that of Erio Castellucci, the Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI) for northern Italy, archbishop of Modena-Nonantola and bishop of Carpi. "People whose lives are in danger should not be pushed back. This is a matter of values concerning humans. Brotherhood, including for non-Christians, must become a new style in inter-personal relations," the religious figure stated, adding that, "the various crises are objectively speaking intertwined. The economic crisis affects migration, as well as the environment, wars affect the economy, etc. We must address this intertwining with another the intertwining of brotherhood, we will never get out of it."

"There is an immense tragedy in what has become the largest liquid cemetery in the world and of a humanitarian" nature, said Marco Tarquinio, editor-in-chief of the daily paper Avvenire. "NGOs save between 10 and 15% of those arriving. I am saying this clearly," he said. "There is no proof that those working in the humanitarian field are, to use a truly unpleasant expression, taxi drivers of the sea," he stressed.


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